Facebook turns users into psychological subjects.
Social networking giant Facebook has received much flak in recent times after it revealed that it secretly altered the news feeds of about 700,000 of its users as a part of a covert psychological experiment. The experiment was conducted to know how negative and positive news moves through the social network and how it affects the users.
The recent news adds to the concerns about social media websites and their capability of infringing upon user privacy. The study was recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Facebook had filtered the news feed of its users and the flow of comments, videos, pictures and web links posted by other people on their walls.
One of the tests deliberately decreased users’ exposure to their friends’ “positive emotional content” which resulted in a clear decrease of positive posts of their own. Another test had reduced users’ exposure to negative emotional content and the reverse scenario played out. The study had concluded that emotions expressed by friends through online social networks influences the moods and temperaments of users.
Media reports say that lawyers, politicians and internet activists are calling the experiment as “spooky, scandalous and disturbing.” The research organization however, has pointed out this kind of data manipulation is written in to Facebook’s user agreement.
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